Omar's Falcon©

In the ancient land called Persia, hunting for food was a daily way of life and survival. To make matters worse, the arid deserts and mountains lacked enough water to grow food. So many people learned to train birds of prey, such as eagles and falcons, to hunt other birds and bring them down for the hunters.

The falcon was the easiest bird of prey to train. And one of the falcon species, the peregrine falcon, was the best of all hunters. It had a wingspan of over three feet. When swooping to catch prey, it could reach speeds of two hundred miles per hour. However, such falcons were rare. Only very rich princes and landlords owned them. But by chance, a poor young boy became the owner of one such falcon. The boy’s name was Omar. His parents had died from the horrible plague that had spread across the land.

After leaving his village one day to search for food in the countryside, Omar came upon an old man who was sitting under a tree holding a peregrine falcon.

“Come close,” whispered the old man. “I know you are very hungry. I have something that will help to fill your stomach.”

Omar looked closer at the bird. “Sir,” he said, “are you giving me this falcon to eat?”

“No,” said the old man, “I would not give you this bird to eat. She can be your companion and help bring you food for many years.”

He then explained: “I am sick and will die soon. My devoted falcon will not understand my passing away. I will train her to be loyal to you, as she has been to me; that is, if you promise to be kind to her and keep her at your side until her final days.”

Omar agreed. The old man died several weeks later, but before he died, he taught the falcon to accept Omar as her hunting master.

Soon after, Omar was surprised to discover that his falcon was like no other bird in the land. In one day, she could bring down enough fowl to feed the hungry people of his village.

Before long, the village landlord heard about the falcon. He became excited upon seeing such a bird, one that not even the king of Persia possessed. He offered Omar several nuggets of gold for the falcon, but Omar would not accept his offer. “This bird is my friend for life,” said Omar. “I cannot sell her.” The landlord offered more gold, but Omar refused.

As time passed, many other landlords and wealthy princes tried to buy the bird. After all, poor peasants like Omar were not thought worthy to own something so valuable.

Meanwhile, word about Omar and his refusal to accept gold for his falcon had spread to the poor peasants throughout the land. They looked up to Omar as their hero, since he owned something the very wealthy could not buy. The king of Persia soon heard of this and decided to show his power. After all, everything has a price, he thought. He would teach the peasants a lesson by making a fool of Omar in front of them.

The king invited Omar and his falcon to the palace. He opened the gates of the courtyard for the peasants to gather before them, then turned to Omar and declared aloud: “Omar, it is our custom in this land to bargain. So tell the crowd, at what price will you sell me your falcon?”

“Your Majesty,” replied Omar, “there is no price that I can accept for my falcon.”

“That’s nonsense,” shouted the king. “Everything has a price. We just have to agree on what that price is.”

Omar then replied. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, I made a promise to a dying man never to sell this bird. I must remain loyal to that promise for the rest of my life.”

“What do you mean by the word loyal?” asked the king. “Loyalty has a price, also.”

The king then turned to the crowd and shouted, “Listen well, all of you, I am going to make this peasant boy an offer he can’t refuse.”

He turned to Omar and the falcon and said, “Omar, if I offer you enough gold to make you as rich as all the princes of Persia, will you then sell this bird to me?”

The crowd became quiet. Omar thought for moment, then replied, “No, Your Majesty. If the loyalty I have for my bird is worth all the riches you now offer me, let everyone know that I remain loyal to my promise and now am the richest poor peasant in the land.”

Upon hearing these words, the crowd shouted, cheered with joy, and carried Omar and his falcon through the streets in triumph.

And thereafter, Omar remained loyal to his promise and rich in honor to the day he died.

Keeping a promise is noble and royal,
The crowning example of being loyal.